WASHINGTON: The UN Security Council urged the Taliban Monday to reciprocate the Afghan government’s ceasefire offer “in full”.
The Taliban announced on Saturday a three-day truce for the forthcoming Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, in an apparent reply to the earlier unilateral ceasefire announced by the Afghan government for nine days.
Afghanistan is expected to celebrate Eid on June 15-17, depending on the lunar calendar.
Security Council members further urged the militant group to accept Kabul’s offer in February of direct talks “without any preconditions and without the threat of violence” aimed at ending the conflict.
“The members of the Security Council reiterated the importance of an inclusive Afghan-led and -owned peace process for the long-term prosperity and stability of Afghanistan and expressed their full support for the Afghan Government’s efforts to that end,” council members said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani unveiled plans for peace talks with the Taliban, saying he would recognize the group as a legitimate political organization in an effort to bring the 16-year war to an end.
In recent years, and especially following the withdrawal of international forces, the Taliban have staged a resurgent comeback, launching offensives and capturing towns and cities, putting the government in Kabul under increasing strain.
The U.S. and some of its NATO allies are seeking to shore up Kabul and apply military pressure on the Taliban in the hopes of bringing the group to the negotiating table.
It was reported last week that the UK would send 450 troops to Afghanistan to help provide security. However, it is not known whether they would undertake combat roles and missions.